Barak: 'I take full responsibility for flotilla raid'
LAST UPDATED: 08/10/2010 09:57
In testimony before Turkel Committee, defense minister says all options "thoroughly examined by Netanyahu, Septet before decisions were made"; Ashkenazi still to give version of events.
Barak at Turkel Committee Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said
Tuesday that he "bears all responsibility for what happens in the IDF."
before the Turkel Committee probe into the IDF raid on a Turkish ship
trying to break the Gaza blockade on May 31, Barak said that he took
"full responsibility for military instructions were given during the
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are out of line'
"The decision to stop the flotilla was made
after the a thorough examination of the options available by the prime
minister and the Septet," Barak stressed.
minister said "concrete intelligence information was presented during a
"During the military briefing [IDF Chief of
General Staff] Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi reiterated his concerns over the
conduct of the world media if force was used to stop the flotilla
however he said that it wont be easy but we will do it," Barak
Barak said that the orders for the flotilla raid were
formulated by in accordance with all the relevant government offices.
have an excellent army, chief of staff and soldiers," Barak stated.
also mentioned other flotillas that were planning on arriving in Gaza
and said that "Israel is fighting for its right to exist in one of the
toughest corners of the world."
The defense minister echoed a similar stance as
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who a day earlier said he had left Barak in charge of the
matter before flying
to North America for diplomatic meetings.
The IDF raid on a
trying to break the Gaza blockade, during which nine Turks were killed,
place while Netanyahu was in Canada for meetings with
Minister Stephen Harper. Netanyahu was scheduled to meet US
Barack Obama the next day in Washington.
Asked by committee
Jacob Turkel, a retired Supreme Court justice, whether his absence from
country had any impact on how the crisis was managed, Netanyahu, toward
of his testimony, said he gave clear directives before he left that
be in charge of the issue “in all of its aspects.”
only the IDF operation to stop the ship, but also the international
I asked the defense minister to coordinate the entire matter,” Netanyahu
Netanyahu was the first witness to appear before the
and his testimony was divided into two parts: a 90-minute public
began with a prepared statement followed by a number of questions from
committee, and an hour-long session behind closed doors. On a number of
occasions during the public session, specifically addressing relations
Turkey, Egypt and the US, Netanyahu requested that his testimony be
Barak was in contact with Turkish FM prior
Diplomatic efforts were
directed toward the UN and those countries whose citizens were
the flotilla or whose docks were being used by the ships, including
Greece, Cyprus, Ireland, Britain and, “first and foremost, Turkey
Netanyahu said his office had been in direct contact with the highest
the Turkish government, and that Barak had been in contact with Turkish
Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whom the defense minister has known for
Netanyahu said Israel did not hear any public message from
Turkish government to tamp down the “fervor” of the IHH activists on the
Marmara, the vessel on which the nine activists were killed.
the Turkish government did not see the possible friction between the
activists and Israel as anything that ran contrary to its interests, and
certainly nothing that justified using effective pressure against the
activists,” he said. “Despite our continuous diplomatic efforts,
Turkish government did not prevent the attempt by the Marmara to violate the
naval blockade. It appears that (Turkey) did not see in the prospect of a
between Turkish activists and Israel something that clashed with its
Netanyahu said that 14 days prior to the flotilla,
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and their Brazilian counterpart for a public declaration on a
to transfer Iranian uranium abroad that was contrary to the position of
and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council.
thereby strengthened its identification and cooperation with Iran just
before the flotilla,” he said.
Netanyahu added that not only did
activists not try to find a way out of a confrontation, they declared
looking for it, that they wanted to break the blockade and that the Jews
to return to Auschwitz.”
Keinon, Abe Selig and Gil
Hoffman contributed to this report.